Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance in Canadian Businesses

Saving on life insurance pays off in the long run, learn how to get the best rate for yourself.

16 Minute read
Published: November 15, 2023

How to Get the Best Life Insurance Policy and Rates in Canada

Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance in Canadian Businesses

16 Minute read
Published: November 15, 2023

Protect Your Wealth - Life Insurance, Investments, & Financial Planning Services Across Ontario

In the ever-evolving landscape of financial planning and asset management, Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance has emerged as a game-changer for Canadian businesses, marking its presence as a dynamic corporate asset class geared towards tax optimization and retirement planning. This forward-thinking financial approach, which expertly combines reliable life insurance coverage with the opportunity for notable wealth growth, is progressively gaining popularity among Canadian business leaders and entrepreneurs. 

In this blog, we’ll explore Corporately Owned Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance in Canada and its benefits for businesses. This insurance not only offers financial protection but also provides tax advantages, making it a key part of smart financial planning for Canadian companies. Whether you’re an experienced business owner wanting to grow your wealth or a finance expert seeking new strategies, this guide will help you understand how this insurance can be a valuable tool in your financial toolkit.

Wealth Management through Retained Earnings: A Strategic Necessity

For a business, managing wealth effectively through retained earnings is crucial for maximizing asset productivity. This management requires a strategic approach that is mindful of tax implications while ensuring liquidity for unforeseen challenges or opportunities. Corporate portfolios typically include a mix of fixed-income investments (like bank deposits, GICs, and bonds) and a variety of other assets (such as stocks, mutual funds, real estate, and private equity). However, the tax burden on fixed income is substantially higher at 50.17%. Hence, businesses often seek a balance between risk control and maintaining liquid reserves.

Balancing the investment portfolio is key. While fixed-income investments are traditionally viewed as low-risk, offering predictable returns and stability, their high tax liability makes them less attractive from a growth perspective. On the other hand, more dynamic asset classes such as stocks, mutual funds, real estate, private finance, and private equity present opportunities for higher returns and capital growth, albeit with increased risk. These growth-oriented investments often enjoy more favorable tax treatment, particularly through capital gains and dividends, which are taxed at lower rates.

The challenge for businesses is to strike a balance between risk and return, ensuring enough liquidity is maintained. Liquidity, the ability to quickly convert assets into cash without significant loss in value, is crucial for a business’s operational and strategic flexibility. It enables a company to respond effectively to unexpected opportunities or to navigate through challenging economic periods. A well-balanced portfolio ensures that a portion of the assets remains readily accessible, while another portion is allocated to higher-yielding, growth-oriented investments, optimizing the overall returns on retained earnings.

Effective wealth management through retained earnings is a multifaceted task that requires a thoughtful blend of risk management, tax efficiency, and liquidity considerations. By carefully selecting and balancing different investment options, businesses can maximize the productivity of their assets, thereby fuelling their growth and securing their financial future.

Participating Whole Life Insurance as a Solution

A key question that arises is there a financial tool that is tax-efficient, liquid, and offers control? Participating Whole Life Insurance, under the Canadian Income Tax Act, provides an unexpected yet advantageous solution. It invites business owners to consider reallocating a portion of their fixed-income investments into a high-grade, dividend-yielding, participating whole life insurance policy. Participating Whole Life Insurance stands out as a multifaceted financial solution, offering a blend of benefits that are seldom found together in other investment vehicles. This type of insurance policy is designed not only to provide life coverage but also to function as a robust financial asset, offering intriguing advantages especially tailored for the corporate context.

Tax Efficiency: One of the standout features of Participating Whole Life Insurance is its favourable tax treatment. The growth of the cash value within these policies is generally tax-deferred under the Canadian tax system. This means that the funds within the policy grow without the immediate tax liabilities that typically accompany investment income, making it a tax-efficient choice for business owners. This aspect becomes particularly compelling when juxtaposed against the higher tax rates imposed on traditional fixed-income investments.

Liquidity: Liquidity remains a paramount concern for any business, and Participating Whole Life Insurance addresses this need effectively. While it is a long-term investment, these policies often allow for access to the cash value, offering a source of liquidity that can be tapped into when needed. This feature provides businesses with a degree of financial flexibility, allowing them to respond to opportunities or cover unexpected expenses without disrupting their investment strategy.

Control and Stability: Control over investment is another critical aspect for business owners, and this is where Participating Whole Life Insurance shines. Policyholders have the assurance of a fixed insurance component, coupled with the potential to earn dividends based on the performance of the insurance company’s portfolio. These dividends can be reinvested to increase the policy’s value or taken out as cash. This control over the policy’s cash value, along with its stable, predictable nature, makes it a compelling tool for strategic financial planning.

Top 10 reasons why a person needs life insurance.

By reallocating a portion of their fixed-income investments into a Participating Whole Life Insurance policy, business owners can enhance their investment portfolio’s overall performance. This shift not only brings in the potential for higher-grade, dividend-yielding returns but also adds a layer of financial security through life insurance coverage. In essence, Participating Whole Life Insurance emerges as a sophisticated financial tool that aligns with the strategic objectives of tax efficiency, liquidity, and control, making it a valuable addition to a business’s financial arsenal.

Rethinking Term Insurance

Many business owners traditionally rely on term insurance, which, unless a death occurs within the term, might not be financially beneficial. A strategic shift to reinvest retained earnings into a high-value, dividend-paying whole life policy could be more advantageous. These modern policies, unlike their traditional counterparts, are designed for quick cash flow positivity and are exempt from taxes, thereby not adding to the tax burden of the holding company under the new passive income regulations set by the CRA in 2018.

Transitioning to Whole Life Insurance

A more strategic approach for businesses is to allocate retained earnings into a whole life insurance policy. Unlike term insurance, these policies are designed to accumulate cash value over time, which can be used as a financial asset. They pay out dividends, which can either be reinvested into the policy for further growth or taken as income. This shift in strategy is particularly relevant under the lens of recent tax reforms.

Tax Implications and Cash Flow Considerations

Whole life policies are structured to be advantageous in terms of cash flow. They typically reach a point of cash flow positivity relatively quickly, meaning the policy’s cash value exceeds the sum of premiums paid, which can then be leveraged as a business asset. Additionally, under the Canadian Revenue Agency’s (CRA) 2018 tax changes, these policies enjoy a tax-exempt status. This means they are not subject to the same tax rates as other investments that may be classified as passive income, allowing a company to grow its assets without increasing its tax burden.

This change is significant. It allows businesses to enjoy the protective benefits of life insurance while also using the policy as a tool for financial growth and wealth accumulation. The tax-exempt status of these policies under current regulations makes them a particularly attractive option for businesses looking to optimize their financial strategies.

Long-term Financial Planning

In the context of long-term financial planning, these whole life policies can serve multiple roles. They can act as a safety net that contributes to the company’s financial health while also serving as a tax-efficient tool for wealth accumulation and estate planning. The dividends from these policies can provide an ongoing revenue stream that bolsters the business owner’s retirement plans, positioning the whole life policy as a versatile and powerful component in a company’s financial portfolio.

For businesses aiming to maximize their financial assets and secure a stable financial future, the move from term insurance to whole life insurance could represent a prudent shift towards more robust and multifaceted financial planning.

Building Cash Value and Estate Benefits

These policies not only build cash value accessible through insurers but can also be leveraged with major banks. They also incrementally enhance estate benefits. Although estate planning may not be the primary goal, these benefits are significant. Upon the policyholder’s death, the gains of the policy are transferred into the company entirely tax-free. Under the Income Tax Act, these proceeds can move through the company’s capital dividend account tax-free, provided the policyholder lives long enough for complete CDA inclusion. 

The Limitations of Term Insurance: Term insurance is often chosen for its lower initial premiums and the straightforward nature of the coverage it provides. However, it does not accumulate any cash value, which means that if the policy is not claimed within the term, the premiums paid do not contribute to the business’s financial growth or asset accumulation. This feature may lead to a reconsideration of its role in a business’s long-term financial strategy, especially when considering alternatives that offer more than just life coverage.

Advantages of High-Value, Dividend-Paying Whole Life Policies: In contrast, participating whole life insurance policies present a more dynamic financial instrument. These policies not only provide life coverage but also include an investment component that accumulates cash value over time. This cash value grows tax-deferred, and the policy may earn dividends, which can be used to increase the policy’s value or can be received as cash income. This dual benefit of protection and investment makes whole life policies particularly attractive for businesses looking to leverage their insurance for broader financial objectives.

Design for Cash Flow Positivity: Modern whole life policies are engineered to become cash flow positive in a relatively short period. This means that the cash value of the policy begins to exceed the total premiums paid, creating a net asset on the business’s balance sheet. This aspect is especially beneficial for businesses that value assets that quickly contribute to their financial strength and liquidity.

Tax Efficiency under New Regulations: The tax treatment of these whole life policies is another significant consideration. Under the new passive income regulations introduced by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in 2018, whole life insurance policies enjoy a tax-exempt status. This means that the increase in cash value and the dividends paid are not subject to the corporate tax that affects other types of passive income. This exemption makes whole life insurance an even more appealing option for businesses, as it helps in reducing the overall tax burden.

Case Study: Strategic Financial Planning with Participating Whole Life Insurance

Insurance Provider: Equitable Life of Canada – Wealth Accumulator 20 Pay Maximum Funded – Client A, a 37-year-old male residing in Nova Scotia.

Policy Cash Flow Dynamics: It is notable that the cash flow of the policy becomes positive towards the end of the third year, achieves a break-even point in the fifth year, and sustains a favourable balance from the sixth year forward. This financial characteristic is especially beneficial during the active business years and crucial for balance sheet management.

Retirement Planning Approaches: Business owners typically adopt two primary strategies with these policies. The first is utilizing the policy as a tax-advantaged method for estate building, which allows for the life insurance proceeds to contribute significantly to the company’s capital dividend account. This approach enables business owners to utilize their savings in retirement confidently, ensuring a lifestyle free from financial compromise.

Top 10 reasons why a person needs life insurance.

The second strategy involves leveraging the policy as part of a Corporate Insured Retirement Program, providing a consistent and reliable income stream during retirement. Several years post initial policy deposits, the business owner may secure a loan by pledging the policy with a bank’s insurance lending division. The bank disburses an annual tax-free sum to the company, which subsequently distributes dividends to the business owner, supplementing their retirement funds akin to how retained earnings or other investments might be used.

Estate and Dividend Benefits: Upon the death of the business owner, the insurance policy plays a pivotal role. The insurance company settles any loans, and the net death benefits are transferred to the company, which then distributes the funds tax-free to the beneficiaries. Often, this process significantly increases the capital dividend account’s credits, thereby lowering future tax obligations on the company’s assets.

Top 10 reasons why a person needs life insurance.

Investment Scenario for Client A: The company sets aside $25,000 annually from its retained earnings, investing in the policy for two decades, from Client A’s age of 37 to 57. Upon reaching retirement at 65, Client A could potentially receive approximately $66,000 per year in dividends from the policy-backed loans. This arrangement would net around $37,600 annually after taxes for 20 years. Should Client A pass away at the age of 86, the policy would yield an estate benefit of around $1.65 million to Client B, the spouse, or to the heirs. Moreover, the corporation would benefit from a capital dividend account balance of approximately $3.9 million. After the distribution of the estate benefits, Client B or the heirs would have access to a $2.3 million CDA balance, facilitating tax-efficient asset distribution and fostering considerable family wealth enhancement.

Top 10 reasons why a person needs life insurance.

Summary of Financial Benefits: A corporate investment of $500,000 in this policy translates into substantial financial advantages: upwards of $750,000 in net spendable retirement income, in excess of $1.6 million in tax-free estate benefits, and more than $3 million in surplus CDA credits. This strategy not only provides for a financially secure retirement but also fortifies a significant financial legacy, effectively circumventing a layer of taxation and elevating the family’s wealth profile.


Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance emerges as a transformative financial strategy for Canadian businesses. Its multifaceted nature, combining robust life insurance coverage with potential for wealth growth, offers a unique blend of benefits that are particularly suited to the Canadian corporate landscape. This strategy stands out for its tax efficiency, liquidity, and control, making it an attractive addition to a business’s financial portfolio.

For businesses managing wealth through retained earnings, this insurance offers a tax-efficient, liquid solution with the added benefit of control and stability. Its favourable tax treatment under Canadian law, coupled with the potential for dividend earnings, presents a compelling alternative to traditional fixed-income investments. Moreover, its ability to provide liquidity and flexibility in financial planning makes it a strategic choice for businesses looking to optimize their asset management.

The transition from term insurance to Participating Whole Life Insurance can be particularly advantageous. Unlike term insurance, which offers only death coverage without any cash value accumulation, Participating Whole Life Insurance provides both a safety net and a growth opportunity. The policy’s cash value accumulation, tax-exempt status, and potential for leveraging with major banks offer significant advantages for long-term financial planning, including retirement and estate planning.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance as a corporate asset in Canada

Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance is a financial strategy that combines life insurance with the potential for wealth accumulation. It’s designed for corporate ownership, offering robust protection while allowing for substantial growth within a corporation’s financial portfolio.

Unlike term insurance, which only provides coverage for a specific period and typically does not accumulate cash value, participating whole life insurance offers lifelong coverage and accumulates cash value over time. This makes it a more comprehensive financial tool for long-term planning.

One significant tax benefit is that the growth within a whole life policy is generally tax-exempt. Additionally, under certain conditions, the death benefit can be paid out to the company tax-free and can be passed through the company’s capital dividend account, also tax-free.

Yes, many business owners use these policies as part of their retirement strategy. The cash value accumulated can be leveraged as a retirement asset, often through a Corporate Insured Retirement Program, which involves taking out loans against the policy’s value to provide retirement income.

Upon the policyholder’s death, the death benefit is paid to the company tax-free. This benefit can significantly contribute to the company’s capital dividend account, providing a tax-efficient way to transfer wealth to heirs or reduce future tax liabilities.

While it offers many advantages, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The suitability depends on the specific financial circumstances and goals of the business and the business owner. Professional financial advice is recommended to determine if this strategy aligns with your business objectives.

This policy can significantly enhance estate planning by providing a tax-free death benefit, which can be used to pay out dividends to heirs or settle estate liabilities. This helps in preserving the wealth for the next generation and reduces the tax burden on the estate.

Yes, the policyholder can access the cash value of the policy during their lifetime. This can be a valuable source of liquidity and can be used for various purposes, including business investment or personal needs.

This strategy can positively impact a company’s balance sheet by adding a valuable asset that grows over time. The cash value of the policy is recorded as an asset, and its growth can enhance the overall financial health of the company.

Find a solution for what you’re looking for 

The strategic integration of Investment Grade Participating Whole Life Insurance into corporate financial planning offers a multifaceted approach to wealth accumulation, tax efficiency, and estate planning, providing Canadian business owners with a robust platform to secure their financial future and leave a lasting legacy for their families. At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare policies and quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada to ensure the best solution for you and your needs. We provide expert life insurance solutions, including no medical life insurance, critical illness insurance, term life insurance, and permanent life insurance to build the best package to give you the protection you need. 

Contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today! We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta including areas such as Kingston, Calgary, and Vancouver

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